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Student Spotlight

Emily Klein

Alumna Profile: Emily Klein

Degree: Natural Resources and Environmental Studies
Natural Resources and the Environment

Dissertation Title: Change in Nonlinear Dynamics and Spatial Structure of Coastal Socio-Ecological Systems: The Bay of Fundy as Case Study

Advisor: Dr. Andrew Rosenberg


Description of Research:

Research in marine historical ecology is demonstrating that contemporary marine ecosystems exist in vastly altered states worldwide. Comparing ocean conditions today and in the past often reveals drastically reduced populations, severely restricted habitats, and radically simplified food webs. Although these trends are dire, a historical perspective can help scientists understand how ecosystems have been transformed over time, and provide baselines from which to measure very long term change. History has additional potential for aiding managers in accurately assessing the current state of marine resources, and in developing future recovery scenarios. Historical marine ecology in Gulf of Maine (GOM) shows the surprising results that a look at the past can provide. Although the modern Gulf is economically productive and ecologically vibrant, research reveals past populations that dwarf presently accepted biomass numbers and an inshore ecosystem that has all but disappeared today.

For my doctoral research, I aim to look at ecosystem structure and dynamics within the Gulf of Maine system from the 1800s forward. To do so, I will be applying novel nonlinear TSA techniques under development at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. These approaches allow investigation of functionally coupled variables and drivers within the system, as well as develop connections within the system and the strength of those relationships. The techniques hold great promise for historical data, as they are completely data driven, require knowledge of the system (that can be found in the historical qualitative text), and have potential to provide proxies for missing data observations as well as entire missing time series. They also allow collapse of the system to fundamental relationships and drivers, thus reducing complexity and data needs for further model building. I will use results from this work to build ecosystem models for the past, as well as explore how that system has changed over time. I am primarily focused on the forage base, e.g. Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), the anadromous river herrings, mackerel, and sand lance. I am particularly interested in the anadromous fish, and how the loss of these species has affected the inshore GOM ecosystem.

This work is part of a larger initiative to understand the GOM in terms of structure and function. Current work on the contemporary GOM ecosystem (CAMEO group led by G. Sugihara, A. Rosenberg, L. Kaufman, and M. Fogarty) is utilizing these same nonlinear TSA techniques, making my results directly comparable and applicable to current science and management. In addition, Ben Carr, a PhD student with Les Kaufman at BU, is interested in understanding large predators over time – we hope to directly connect our work for a more complete picture. Finally, we also hope to directly link historical results to the Massachusetts Oceans Partnership (MOP) work, as well as build on historical research at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Previous Awards and Activities:
Activities and Collaborations:

Comparative Analysis of Marine Ecosystems Organization (CAMEO) Project: "Comparative Dynamics of Ecosystem Components from the Northeast Atlantic Shelf and Pacific Coast: New Approaches to Forecasting and Understanding Variability and Structure in Marine Ecosystems." UNH, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Boston University, Northeast Fisheries Science Center (2009 - ongoing).

ICES SGHIST: Study Group on History of Fish & Fisheries. International Council for Exploration of the Sea, North Atlantic (2008 – ongoing).

Guest research & teaching assistant, Boston University Marine Program (2009 – 2010)

Greek Academic Advisor (Alpha Gamma Rho, Kappa Delta, Alpha Chi Omega, Sigma Alpha Epsilon) UNH (2009-2010).

The Sea Ahead/The Sea Before Us workshops, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada (October 2008 & May 2009)

NCEAS Distribute Graduate Seminar Synthesis Working Group: Ecosystem-Based Management & Marine Protected Areas. NCEAS, Santa Barbara CA (April 2009).

I am also active in the Graduate Student Senate and Stonewall Grads.

Selected Presentations and Publications:

Invited Speaker, Historical Marine Ecology in the Gulf of Maine: Connecting the past with the present. Zodiac Seminar Series: Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands (November 2010). 

Presentation, Dynamic Marine Ecosystems: Connecting the past with the present. North American Society for Oceanic History: Avery Point & Mystic Seaport, CT. (April 2010).  
Poster, A New Perspective: Atlantic herring as a case study for time series analysis & historical data. Gulf of Maine Symposium: St. Andrews Biological Station, St. Andrews By-the-Sea, New Brunswick, Canada (October 2009)

Invited Speaker, Long-term ecosystem change in the Gulf of Maine: Moving forward from Atlantic herring. Maine Department of Marine Resources, Boothbay Maine {June 2009).

Invited Speaker. The Sea Before Us workshop: University of British Colombia, Vancouver, BC, Canada (May 2009).

Poster, A New Perspective: Atlantic herring as a case study for time series analysis & historical data. Census of Marine Life: Oceans Past III Conference: University of British Colombia, Vancouver BC, Canada (May 2009).

Presentation, Historical Marine Ecology in the Gulf of Maine. The Sea Ahead Workshop:  University of British Colombia, Vancouver, BC, Canada (October 2008).

Professional Positions:

Intern, Historical Herring Fishery Research. University of New Hampshire (2005 –2006)

Field Research Technician, Study on the Effects of Wintering Habitat on American Redstarts. Smithsonian Institute, University of Maryland: Whitehouse, Jamaica (2005)

Field Research Technician, Study of River Otter Presence. University of Kentucky/US Fish & Wildlife Service (2004)

Field Research Technician, Study of the Effects of Fire on Forest Soils and Recruitment
University of Kentucky/US Fish & Wildlife Service (2004)

Field Research Assistant, Biocomplexity Avian Disease & Demography Study. University of Hawai’i/USGS: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (2004)

Field Research Assistant, Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) Project. National Park Service: Yellowstone National Park (2003).

Related Links

History of Marine Animal Populations (HMAP):


Nancy Foster: